The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's soccer team rallied for a wild 2-1 overtime victory over the University of the District of Columbia in an East Coast Conference game at Spartan Field. The Spartans, ranked #4 in this week's NCAA East Regional Poll, now stand at 10-3-1 overall and 6-2 in ECC play, clinching one of the four slots in this year's East Coast Conference Tournament. With two regular season games remaining, STAC's total of 10 victories is the program's most since they won 11 in the 2011 season.
In a lightning-paced start, UDC jumped in front early when goalkeeper Milton Diaz sent a long ball to Malik Thom, who found a streaking Raphael Pacano for his seventh of the season after just 5:21 of play. Despite the high pace, shots were not easy to come by, with the Spartans holding a narrow 5-3 advantage while taking the 1-0 deficit into halftime.
After the break, STAC carried the play with numerous opportunities but were unable to find the equalizer until the desperate final minute. With UDC's post-season aspirations also hanging in the balance, the Firebirds seemed poised to hold on to a narrow victory but Brad Neal's long throw-in found an unlikely target. With the hosts pushing 11 players into the box, pink-shirted goalkeeper Jack Nicholson soared from the crowd at the back post and placed a perfect header into the left corner, sending the Senior Day crowd into a wild celebration with just 30 seconds left on the clock.
Watch Jack Nicholson's First Career Collegiate Goal vs. UDC on October 20th.
STAC outshot the visitors by an 11-1 margin in the second half and converted the improbable comeback when George Yusuff was on the spot for his fourth of the season, from Lachlan Wilkinson, ending the affair after 7:03 of extra time. In addition to his goal-scoring heroics, Nicholson made three saves - not including a spectacular diving first-half stop on a failed clear that would have been an own goal - to hold his conference-leading goals against average at 0.82 as the hosts claimed a 17-6 shots advantage for the day.
The Spartans will play their final two regular season games on the road, starting with a trip to West Chester University on Tuesday, October 23. With playoff seedings still to be determined, the final at Daemen College stands to be a big one, closing things out on Saturday, October 27.